Tanzania: Tale of Momella’s Giraffes Without Tails

by Jan 16, 2010Wildlife News

Arusha — A strange observation has been noted at Momella: Many of the park’s giraffes are either missing their tails or these appendages have been snipped off, leaving severed stumps in their places.


Even stranger, the problem is said to be caused by the ‘lack of lions’ in the park. This is according to wildlife experts at the Arusha National Park, which is famous by the name of Momella.

“When there are no ferocious predators in any park, then few animals are killed. In this case, there will be no carcasses lying around and thus hyenas get no food,” Mr Bosco Kessy Atanasio, a warden at the park explained.

“Being natural scavengers, hyenas with no carcasses to feed upon, will eventually throng giraffes and nib at their tails whenever an opportunity presents itself,” and as far as Mr Atanasio is concerned, packs of hyenas would hunt giraffes by jumping and nibbling at their tails before eventually being kicked by the tall animals.

Most hyenas have been succeeding in chewing off giraffes’ tails at Arusha National Park which explains why most of the tall, majestic animals nowadays go without tails or spot very short ones at their rears.

The giraffe has the longest tail of any land mammal. The appendages can stretch to 8 feet (2.4 meters) long, including the tuft on the end.

As for their lifespan, experts say a wild giraffe will normally only live 5 years in the wild. Their demise is normally brought about by drought, predators, and human interference.

In other areas poachers have been reported to kill giraffes for their tails. These illegal hunters then sell the tails or hides on the black markets. Some tribes have been known to braid the hair from the giraffe’s tail making them into bracelets and then sell them to the tourists.

Mass poaching of giraffes in the West Kilimanjaro wild (a corridor which strides between Momella – ANAPA and Kilimanjaro National Park) in the period between 2006 and 2008 was accounted to beliefs by locals that bone-marrow from giraffe could cure HIV-Aids.